South Korea to start new maritime studies curriculum for high school students

South Korea is revamping high school curriculum to include maritime studies.

The South Korean government wants students to pursue their academic learning based on interest.  

By Sunny Um, South Korea correspondent, Maritime Fairtrade

High school students in South Korea used to have only one goal — getting into prestigious universities by achieving high grades in subjects they are forced to study, regardless of their career interests.  But the government is stepping in to change this unhealthy pursuit.

Starting in 2025, education officials will implement an academic credit system in high schools, in which students can take subjects and courses based on their interest to fulfill a mandatory number of credits to graduate. 

The Ministry of Education is reforming the high school syllabus to offer a broad variety of subjects, including those offer by other institutions and research centers.  To boost maritime education and to highlight the potential of the industry, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced on July 30 that a new “Integrated Oceans” curriculum will be offered.

Getting students to know about the maritime industry

When asked about the details of “Integrated Oceans”, an official of the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry told Maritime Fairtrade that “nothing is decided yet” and added that the proposed syllabus is still under discussion.

“We haven’t talked about which textbooks or study materials to use,” the official, who declined to be named, said.  “Currently, the curriculum remains at the planning stage, but some (officials) suggest that we can include Maritime Culture and Technology, which is at the moment available as an optional subject for high school students in South Korea.”

Maritime Culture and Technology is an optional subject of which the grades are not taken into account for the national college entrance qualifications.  According to the Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City Office of Education, the subject is designed to allow students to explore career opportunities in the maritime industry and to enable them to recognize the importance of maritime safety. 

Maritime Culture and Technology also includes some basic knowledge of marine biology and ocean development and studying the subject can be useful for those who want to work as a quarantine officer, marine biologist, or marine researcher. 

Other plans to promote maritime education

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has a five-year plan, the “Basic Plan to Promote Maritime Education and Maritime Culture”, drafted in February, which includes nine projects under three categories: improving educational content; creating an ecosystem for education; and establishing a system and foundation for maritime education and culture.

The ministry also aims to build five marine cultural centers through this plan to hold exhibitions to let visitors learn more about the industry.

Kim Chang-kyun, director-general for maritime policies at the ministry, said that “the details of the plans will be developed with the help of local governments and relevant institutes”.

This five-year plan and the proposed maritime curriculum are major initiatives to spur further development and growth of the industry.  The official who spoke to Maritime Fairtrade said “It is meaningful that the ministry voluntarily decided to spearhead this new curriculum” as in the past, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries was seldom involved in educational matters.

“I hope this plan and the curriculum (soon to be created) can be an opportunity for students to explore jobs in the maritime industry.”

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